You’ve just been through surgery, but it’s not the pain bothering you. Instead, you’re starting to wonder how you’re going to pay for it. Surgeries are expensive, and your surgery was complicated. Even though you’re young and have time to heal and recover, the bills could loom over you for a long time. Don’t fret, though. There are ways to reduce medical debt before you even begin to repay them.

1. Start by checking the bill

The very first thing to do is to check the bill. Sometimes, services are added or doubled on bills, so make sure you don’t pay twice. Call the billing department over any discrepancies to have them removed before you pay.

2. Compare costs elsewhere

After surgery, or even before you go in, look for the same service you need elsewhere. Compare the quotes you’re given and keep track of the average cost charged to patients. This helps you avoid getting taken advantage of and gives you a solid base for negotiations later.

3. Negotiate with your provider

Using the information you just gathered looking online or by calling different facilities, it’s time to negotiate with your medical provider. If your surgery cost $4,000 but you’ve seen others charging only $3,000, the provider may reduce the cost of your services. If your provider won’t negotiate based on those charges, consider asking for a percent discount if you pay in full.

4. Ask about a payment plan

If the provider isn’t willing to negotiate but the surgery is too much to afford all at once, consider asking for a payment plan. Even if you pay only $250 a month, a $4,000 surgery takes only 16 months to pay off. It might mean tightening your budget, but it’s easier than paying a bulk some.

5. Ask about financial assistance

In the case that you truly can’t afford payments, consider asking about financial assistance. Some hospitals have a number of financial services available to low-income or no-income patients. You may need to apply for Medicaid before the hospital will provide these services or discounts to you, however, so keep this in mind if you’re on a tight schedule for making your first payment.

If none of these tips help you, there are other possibilities such as bankruptcy or debt consolidation plans that may help. Your attorney can talk to you about a number of possible options available for your situation. He or she may also be able to directly negotiate with the hospital on your behalf to get you a better rate.